Epilepsy Talk

Epilepsy and Energy Drinks – Think Before You Drink! | October 23, 2011


It feels good and it tastes good, it’s easy to drink and it gives you that extra jolt of energy. But is it really worth it?

Think the death of 18-year-old Irish athlete, Ross Cooney, who died within hours after playing a basketball game and consuming four cans of “Red Bull”. (Subsequently it was banned in France.)

While we all need an energy boost from time to time, an energy drink may not be the best way to get it, experts say. In fact, the FDA doesn’t even define the term “energy drink,” leading the labeling up to the manufacturer.

There are reports of seizures induced by energy drinks. Some believe they’re caused due to the “crash” that follows the energy high. And although there is no danger of over caffeination in one drink, more than one drink can lead to adverse side effects which include nervousness, irritability, frequent urination, and arrhythmia.

And it’s important to know the repercussions for your body. The entire theory about energy drinks is they will actually give you energy, and they do. Too much energy and it wears off rapidly, causing the person to go into a tired slump. In fact, seizures can be caused by the increase in the energy which actually burns up that same energy.

In November 2010, the University of Texas Medical School at Houston reported that energy drinks contain more caffeine than a strong cup of coffee, and that the caffeine combined with other ingredients (sometimes not reported correctly on labels) such as guarana, amino acid taurine, green tea and other herbs, vitamins and minerals, may interact. Energy drinks consumed with alcohol may affect heart rates, blood pressure and even mental states. The caffeine content of a single energy drink ranges from 70 — 200 milligrams per 16-oz serving while a 16-oz cup of coffee can contain 20 — 300 milligrams.

Not surprising, most of the energy from these drinks comes from the sugar and caffeine, (which can be very dehydrating), not from the unnecessary extras which might sound romantic and fortifying. But those high-tech sounding ingredients are of no value, and potentially harmful in large amounts. And just trying to figure out exactly how much of each stimulant is contained in an energy drink can be difficult.

“Pimp Juice”, “Full Throttle”, “Rock Star”, “Monster Energy”, “Rage”, “Cocaine”, “Red Bull” — these are some of the high-powered energy drinks being marketed to young adults. The web sites for these products are full of images of macho lifestyles. They promote beverages containing ingredients that sound scientific, but may be unfamiliar to many consumers.

Energy drinks have also been associated with seizures in people with no history of epilepsy. This is thought to be mostly result from caffeine, but taurine may also be implicated. It has anticonvulsant effects, but it in some situations it may actually provoke seizures. And excessive consumption of energy drinks may bring about seizures in those who suffer from certain forms of epilepsy. This is caused by the “crash” that follows the energy high after consumption.

For example, (even though it’s a small sampling), four patients had seizures after consuming large amounts of energy drinks (multiple cans of product, usually on an empty stomach). One patient experienced two separate episodes that were both related to intake of multiple cans of “Monster”. One patient experienced a seizure when using a “diet pill” (containing caffeine) in conjunction with one 24-ounce can of “Monster”. At follow-up, no further seizure activity was demonstrated by patients after abstaining from energy drinks

Also, energy drinks may pose a serious health risk for some children, especially those with diabetes, seizures, cardiac abnormalities or mood and behavior disorders. A new study, in the March issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, determined that energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit to children, and both the known and unknown properties of the ingredients, combined with reports of toxicity, may put some children at risk for adverse health events.

Yet, especially athletes, account for half of the energy drink market, and according to surveys, 30 percent to 50 percent of adolescents report consuming energy drinks. The high levels of stimulants such as caffeine, taurine, and guarana, are a little scary and safe consumption levels have not been established for most adolescents. Because energy drinks are frequently marketed to athletes and at-risk young adults, it is important for pediatric health care providers to screen for heavy use and to educate families and children at-risk for energy drink overdose, which can result in seizures, stroke and even sudden death.

So whether you’re a kid or an adult…energy drinks are a risky proposition. Is it really worth it?

Another article of interest: AAFP Says No to Energy Drink Samples for Kids http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AAFP/41858?xid=nl_mpt_guptaguide_2013-09-25&utm_source=guptaguide&utm_medium=email&utm_content=mpt&utm_campaign=09|25|2013&userid=678261&eun=g5845718d10r&email=pfj@pfjohnson.com&mu_id=5845718

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Resources:

http://www.epilepsyct.com/article.php?id=101

http://www.organizedwisdom.com/Energy_Drinks_and_Seizures

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_drink#Adverse_effects

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/whats-the-buzz-about-energy-drinks

http://www.epilepsyattack.com/energy-drinks.html

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/583831_4

http://www.mcvitamins.com/energy-drinks.htm

http://www.suite101.com/content/negative-health-effects-of-energy-drinks-a224493

http://www.copperwiki.org/index.php?title=Energy_Drinks

http://device12.hubpages.com/hub/Energy-Drinks-Advantages-and-Disadvantages

 


27 Comments »

  1. My son thinks they are great but he is not totally his nice self. He is not polite. He gets a quick tempered.
    When is not drinking them he is fine.

    I fine them to give me a headache. I do not recommend them.

    I like peace and tranquility!

    Comment by Toni Robison — October 23, 2011 @ 4:42 PM

  2. Well, it’s probably that he’s so hyped up on sugar and caffeine, it brings out the “beast” in him. That stuff in high concentration can do it.

    Personally, I think they taste nasty.

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 23, 2011 @ 5:37 PM

  3. Imaginary enery.
    For white collar workerers, it might make you feel a little more awake.

    For actual physical and manual labor, a worker
    needs natural energy.

    Out of curiousity, I tried it once when I went fishing early in the morning. There was no difference. I still had to have my coffee to get started.

    Comment by mkfarnam — October 23, 2011 @ 9:39 PM

  4. No thanks. The taste alone isn’t worth it. Yuck!

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 24, 2011 @ 1:15 PM

  5. Energy Drinks: More Deadly Than Healthy

    “New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has subpoenaed three makers of energy drinks — Monster Beverage, PepsiCo and Living Essentials — in an investigation about whether they have been misleading consumers about health risks and, too, possibly violating federal law by promoting the drinks as dietary supplements rather than as foods (which are under FDA regulation).

    In particular, the companies are accused of misleading consumers about the drinks’ caffeine content and whether all the ingredients in the drugs are accurately disclosed, says the New York Times. For instance, labels may say that drinks contain black tea extract and guarana, but may not note that these contain additional caffeine.

    The drinks contain from about 80 milligrams to more than 500 milligrams of caffeine; one test has shown that 5-Hour Energy Drink contains about 207 milligrams of caffeine. In contrast, a 12-ounce drink of cola has about 50 milligrams of caffeine and a 5-ounce coffee about 100 milligrams…

    Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/energy-drinks-more-deadly-than-healthy.html#ixzz252CqZTfF

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 30, 2012 @ 9:09 AM

    • Hi..I’m new to this forum…I would like to ask a question if I may about black tea extract…I’ve been epileptic since 1996 from a motocycle accident, I control my epilepsy very well with a small dose of Dyna Lamotrigine (200mg/day)…I haven’t had a grand mal seizure for more than 5 years, even though I do get the ora now and then but nothing severe…I have had 3 grand mal seizures this month…my neuro whom I have been seeing since I was diagnosed said that it was extremely unusual to become grand
      mal all of a sudden, esspecially after being seizure free for such long time…he immediately increased my dose of lamotrigine to 600mg…I was feeling pretty brain dead on that dose and was still having seizures…small ones, to full on grand mal…I was brain storming like mad and was trying to think of what I had possibly changed in my diet in the 6 week odd period prior to my grand mal…I think that I found it, with the help of your site…I have been drinking an ice tea from out local shop, it’s a very popular brand in this country (South Africa) owned by a massive company…the label says “Black Tea Extract 0.14%”…I did some research on this ingredient and it seems that it contains caffeine, so I stopped drinking it…my seizures were gone completely , not even a hint of a seizure…label on the bottle says nothing about caffeine…I just need to confim that black tea extract was responsible for my seizures? Any info would be much appreciated…thanks…Joey

      doubled my

      Comment by Joey — December 1, 2012 @ 9:58 AM

      • Black tea contains 2% to 4% caffeine, which affects thinking and alertness. ( One cup of black tea has 40 mg of caffeine.)

        Interactions You Should Know About. If you are taking:

        •MAO inhibitors : The caffeine in black tea could cause dangerous drug interactions.

        •Stimulant drugs such as Ritalin: The stimulant effects of black tea might be amplified.

        •Drugs to prevent heart arrhythmias or to treat insomnia , heartburn , ulcers , or anxiety (Black tea might interfere with their action. (Lamictal is both an anti-anxiety med and an anti-seizure drug.)

        •Folic acid : Black tea may decrease the absorption of folic acid into the blood stream.

        I hope this helps!

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 1, 2012 @ 11:42 AM

      • Thanks for getting back to me so quickly…the thing that I need to confirm is if the “black tea extract” was the cause of my grand mal seizures?…They stopped immediatley after I stopped drinking the tea…within 24 hours in fact…and I was having quite a few petit mal seizures daily, on more than double my dose of my meds…I had been drinking it for about 5 weeks almost daily…so my question is…was it the black tea?…I reccon that it must have been but I want to know for sure if that caffiene percentage is enough to have caused the grand mal, it’s a very chemical peach flavoured tea…with nothing but preservatives andflavourants…not a healthy “tea” by the looks of things…why don”t they put “contains caffeine” on the bottle…any thoughts?…thanks a wack!…Joey
        ourants

        Comment by Joey — December 1, 2012 @ 12:02 PM

  6. F.D.A. Posts Injury Data for 3 Drinks

    As its policy on highly caffeinated energy drinks is scrutinized, the Food and Drug Administration publicly released records on Thursday about fatality and injury filings that mentioned the possible involvement of three top-selling products…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/16/business/scrutiny-of-energy-drinks-grows.html?ref=health

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 18, 2012 @ 12:51 PM

  7. Caffeinated Drink Cited in Reports of 13 Deaths

    Federal officials have received reports of 13 deaths over the last four years that cited the possible involvement of 5-Hour Energy, a highly caffeinated energy shot, according to Food and Drug Administration records and an interview with an agency official.

    The disclosure of the reports is the second time in recent weeks that F.D.A. filings citing energy drinks and deaths have emerged.

    Last month, the agency acknowledged it had received five fatality filings mentioning another popular energy drink, Monster Energy.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/15/business/5-hour-energy-is-cited-in-13-death-reports.html?ref=business

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 20, 2012 @ 10:01 AM

    • Hi again Phylis…the reason I asked specifically is because my laywer says that with all the things that I’ve lost ie. being able to drive legally, head trama, could have been killed in my car the first time I seizured (in more than 5 years)…or injured/killed someone else, had to up my dosage which really makes me feel like a zombie etc gives me a really strong case in court, so I’m contemplating it…so basically they have taken my livelihood (I’m a computer network technician and all of my clients are business’ that I have to drive to) and quality of life away from me in less than a month and a half…the thing that I’m trying to find out is if the black tea extract which I believe has quite a decent dose of caffeine 2-4 % if I understood you correctly before compared to less than 2% in a cup of coffee…which I haven’t had since 1996 (unfortunately) as well as coke or anything with caffeine in it…I’ve been very careful with anything that might affect my head…so the question that I need to ask is, if black tea extract contains caffeine, then why don’t they put it on the label to protect peeps like me?…Thank you so much for all of the info, I really appreciate it…this is the first time I’ve ever joined on a forum (hence the long windedness)…and you’ve been really helpful!…got you bookmarked!..best…Joey

      half…er

      Comment by Joey — December 1, 2012 @ 3:44 PM

      • Sigh. Your lawyer has his head up his ass. :-(

        If you were to sue every manufacturer that has black tea extract as an ingredient or non-disclosed caffeine (like the products listed above), it would take a lifetime and a half and wheelbarrow full of money.

        These are corporate giants. They have LOTS of lawyers. AND mucho money.

        My cousin sued a nursing agency because of wrongful death (not only true but confirmed by about 5 doctors). They didn’t settle for 5 years and she got a pathetic amount. And that was an act of negligence that KILLED her husband.

        If you want to get even, contact the FDA. Be a whistle blower. Help others. But I don’t think you’re going to see a dime from this, despite all the hardship and damage.

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 1, 2012 @ 5:38 PM

  8. Joey, the fact that your seizures ceased when you stopped drinking the tea should tell you something.

    But it could be more than just the caffeine. The preservatives and other (many undisclosed) ingredients could have an effect also.

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 1, 2012 @ 1:50 PM

  9. This is kind of the opposite in my case but may be somewhat related.

    I was diagnosed with Epilepsy when I was 15 years old and am 27 now. I take 400mg a day currently.

    I drink a ton of pop 4-5 cans a day on my weekends and had been drinking about 2 energy drinks each day for 4 days a week. I decided to stop drinking energy drinks due to all of the fuss about the deaths that were being pinned on them.

    I ended up having a grand mal seizure a week after quitting out of nowhere! I was seizure free for about 2-3 years and the cause of the previous seizure was because i neglected in taking my medication properly.

    I don’t see how massive quantities of caffeine are causing seizures but possibly the overall crash of something in the energy drinks do.

    ~Chase

    Comment by chase — December 5, 2012 @ 3:38 PM

    • Hi Chase,

      That’s really interesting, I went to our local hospital yesterday and saw the neuro prof who overseas the epilepsy clinic…cut a long story short…caffeine is definately a trigger (in my case, a radical trigger)….any stimulant like coffee, coke, black tea…nevermind redbull or monster x…the last two will give me a seizure within in 20 minutes. I’ve had more than 2000 seizures since 1996…trust me, caffeine is my Krytonite.

      Comment by Joey — December 6, 2012 @ 12:27 AM

  10. Well Chase, you certainly seem to be an exception to the rule! (But you know, “rules” weren’t meant to fit everyone!)

    Here’s the low-down on caffeine:

    Caffeine stimulates the nervous system. Adrenaline is released and the liver begins to emit stored blood sugar. Insulin is then released, and blood sugar drops below normal — a common seizure trigger.

    And caffeine can be a “stealth” drug, too. It can be found as an ingredient in medications, including some antihistamines and decongestants.

    Common Epilepsy Triggers…

    http://epilepsytalk.com/2010/03/02/common-epilepsy-triggers/

    Weird Epilepsy Triggers… (You’ll love this!)

    http://epilepsytalk.com/2011/09/19/weird-epilepsy-triggers%e2%80%a6/

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 5, 2012 @ 5:57 PM

  11. I am 32 yrs old and just had my 2nd gran mal seizure a week ago. My 1st was 3yrs ago and when it happened the neurologist ran every test possible. Cat scan, MRI, EKG,EEG……….nothing. Nothing to show why I had a seizure or that I would ever have one again. The only thing I could think of was that I had been more stressed than usual at work. Fast forward to last week when surprisingly to me I had another. I was not stressed. I did skip a meal here and there, and I did drink a rockstar energy drink every day. The more I thought about it, I remembered that I had been skipping meals and drinking 5-hour energy drinks when I had my 1st seizure. The new neurologist i saw says the rockstar is probably a “trigger” for me and not to drink them. I am still in disbelief and denial that a little ole drink could cause a serious thing like a seizure to happen! Is there any way of proving that this is what caused my seizures? Please give me any advice you have.

    Comment by Melissa — December 8, 2012 @ 1:02 AM

  12. Well Melissa, I think it’s a few things…

    First of all, stress is the #1 trigger on the hit parade.

    Stress can trigger hyperventilation which can provoke seizures, especially absence seizures. It can increase cortisol, known as “the stress hormone” because cortisol is secreted in higher levels during the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress. And, as you may imagine, it’s responsible for several stress-related changes in the body which may also influence seizure activity.

    Negative emotions related to stress, such as anger, worry or fright, may also cause seizures. This happens because the limbic system, the portion of the brain that regulates emotion, is one of the most common places for seizures to begin. You’ll probably find that you have more seizures during or after periods of anxiety or stress.

    Spotty eating can disturb your electrolytes and create an imbalance, plus you’re talking about an insufficient vitamin/nutrient supply.

    Epilepsy and Electrolytes
    http://epilepsytalk.com/2011/10/16/epilepsy-and-electrolytes/

    Fighting Seizures Nutritionally
    http://epilepsytalk.com/2009/11/26/fighting-seizures-nutritionally/

    Third, caffeine stimulates the nervous system. Adrenaline is released and the liver begins to emit stored blood sugar. Insulin is then released, and blood sugar drops below normal — a common seizure trigger. And caffeine can be a “stealth” drug, too. It can be found as an ingredient in medications, including some antihistamines and decongestants. Not to mention energy drinks.

    What you can do to pinpoint the culprit, is to keep a Daily Seizure Diary.

    Every day, write down your sleep patterns, what you eat and when, your daily activities (including emotional upsets, stress, etc.) and if you have a seizure, write down how you felt before (triggers, auras?) how you felt afterwards, and if you can, the duration of the seizure.

    That will go a long way in helping your doc understand what’s going on with you and if, indeed, it’s the energy drinks that’s causing your triggers or perhaps that, coupled with something else.

    I hope this helps…

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 8, 2012 @ 10:55 AM

  13. Add Gatorade to the list of toxic drinks…

    The disgusting ingredient in Gatorade

    http://money.msn.com/now/post.aspx?post=e7f448a0-cd39-411d-9299-1e1e77d079bf

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 14, 2012 @ 9:56 AM

  14. ER visits tied to energy drinks double since 2007

    A new government survey suggests the number of people seeking emergency treatment after consuming energy drinks has doubled nationwide during the past four years, the same period in which the supercharged drink industry has surged in popularity in convenience stores, bars and on college campuses.

    http://news.yahoo.com/er-visits-tied-energy-drinks-double-since-2007-093128662–finance.html

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 16, 2013 @ 3:51 PM

  15. The advice I was given by my doctor is simple. Read the ingredients given. Put it back on the shelf if you don’t recognize an ingredient, or if it says “Spices” or “Sugar Substitute” or anything -alose. I am going for some Allergy Testing next week, and am going to find out if I have any allergies. But, I DO know my triggers are MSG and Aspartame. Red Food Dye, may be a new one. I want to know! Had a MASSIVE reaction to Red Velvet Cake, and want to know if it was the Food Colouring.

    My advice is to know yourself. NO one should be drinking Pop AND Energy Drinks and asking “What happened?”

    Comment by Jennifer Chase — March 5, 2013 @ 9:42 AM

  16. BRAVO! Excellent advice Jennifer.

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 5, 2013 @ 11:39 AM

  17. First off, why are “young kids” drinking these? NY state bans the sale of them to anyone under 18. I agree with that. And secondly, this article states that most of the seizures “caused by energy drinks” were in people who consumed “multiple cans”. Who the hell in their right mind would have more than 1 a day? Never mind 1 or 2 (or 4!) in a short period of time? That’s where the problem lies. Yes, maybe the contents/ingredients are bad for you, but a little common sense goes a LONG way too! I have epilepsy, like my energy drinks, and have never experienced an issue with them. But I only have like 2 a week, and I’m 36 years old. Not 14.

    Comment by Mark — May 29, 2013 @ 4:24 PM

  18. With age comes wisdom… :-)

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 29, 2013 @ 4:55 PM

  19. tasted it only once , because it was only thing my son had in the car.. never again !! yes is a coffee drinker , heck , at one time , back 35 yrs ago , i could kill off a pot of coffee no problem .. & still sleep , now , i cant do that , i buy organic coffee , { Marley coffee} best coffee .. just one cup , relaxes me , plus doesnt have that boom a rang effect ..

    Comment by cathy — March 15, 2014 @ 3:41 AM

  20. Mmmmm. There’s a difference between coffee and sludge…especially good coffee!

    Does your coffee come in grounded or as beans?

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 15, 2014 @ 10:28 AM

  21. Wow a lot of excellent material!

    Comment by how to know which garcinia cambogia to buy — April 4, 2014 @ 5:12 AM


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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I've also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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